Today I am pleased to announce the Liberal-National Government’s commitment to two new initiatives aimed at protecting our seas and oceans.
Firstly, our Government is providing up to $5 million to clean up and prevent litter from entering Great Barrier Reef waterways.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation, in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, will coordinate community clean-up events and other activities to reduce marine debris in the Great Barrier Reef region over the next five years.
The $5 million project will build on existing efforts to clean up rubbish from beaches and waterways along the Great Barrier Reef coast and prevent the flow of litter from its source.
Tangaroa Blue and Conservation Volunteers Australia will work with Reef-dependent communities, including Traditional Owners, and industries associated with tourism, fishing, farming, manufacturing and shipping to remove and reduce marine litter.
Marine debris – such as plastic bags, bottles and discarded fishing nets – comes from both land and sea sources, and is a significant risk to Reef ecosystems and wildlife.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most treasured natural systems and contributes $6.4 billion to the Queensland and Australian economies.
It is important we keep it free of litter, both for the marine environment itself and for the 64,000 jobs that rely on it.
That’s why our Government this year announced more than $500 million for the reef, including our record $443 million partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Today’s announcement further demonstrates our commitment to the health of the reef.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a leading not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris.
In 2004 the Foundation established the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, which involves over 1,000 partners and more than 120,000 volunteers and has seen the removal of over 1,000 tonnes of marine debris from the Australian coastline.
The project is an investment under Phase VI of the Australian Government’s Reef Trust program.
I am also proud to announce Australia has joined the United Nations Clean Seas Campaign in the fight to rid our oceans of plastic pollution.
Keeping our oceans clear from pollution is essential for maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. The Clean Seas Campaign is a global campaign which connects government, the private sector and the public to share ideas and experiences, coordinate activities and find innovative solutions to tackle marine litter.
In June, I announced our Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia’s coasts and oceans, which includes measures to prevent, reduce and remove marine debris, such as garbage and abandoned fishing gear, from our coasts and minimise threats to marine life.